America’s Cup and Tag Heuer take home the gold

The American team won seven consecutive races to tie the score 8-8 to set up a winner-take-all race Wednesday. Team New Zealand entered the start area from the advantaged port, or left, end. Its skipper, Dean Barker, perfectly placed his boat on track underneath the Americans, and though the boats started dead even, Barker aggressively drove Oracle away from Mark 1, using the rules to his advantage. Oracle’s skipper, Jimmy Spithill, jerked his wheel to avoid the Kiwis and the boat crashed into the water, falling from its foils.

New Zealand took a 40-meter lead, but the American team was glued to the Kiwis on the downwind Leg 2.

It was the upwind Leg 3 that determined the winner of this America’s Cup. At the beginning of the series, Oracle was nearly two knots slower than New Zealand on the upwind legs. After a series of modifications to the boat and possibly its foils, the team ended this series averaging two knots faster than New Zealand upwind. The addition of the five-time Olympic medalist Ben Ainslie as tactician also galvanized the team.

The wind and tide gods were favoring Oracle’s upwind advantage in the final race. Since the tide was traveling with the wind, Leg 3, the only upwind leg, took longer than usual, giving Oracle more time to extend its lead with better boat speed.

In the end, Oracle won by 44 seconds. The team had come a long way since crashing its first boat, struggling with foiling and being penalized two race points and losing key team members after a rules violation.Spithill, a 34-year-old Australian, has said that a lesser team would have folded, but his team became stronger. ~ New York Times

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